Before the parliamentary days of the Republican deputies, organized in Nîmes Thursday and Friday, the president of the group in the Assembly underlines the stakes of a rally where the five candidates of the right are expected, in the presence of Laurent Wauquiez.
The Republicans meet in Nîmes on Thursday for their last parliamentary return before the presidential election. What message are you sending to LR deputies?
The strength of the collective is the slogan of our group and this must become a reality shared by all. The period is uncertain but our group can be a pillar on which our candidate can rely and build a parliamentary majority.
The big maneuvers have started in view of the next legislative elections. François Bayrou wants a “single unitary and broad movement” bringing together in particular LREM, the Modem and Agir. Doesn’t this project of recomposing a majority risk attracting some parliamentarians, tired of being in the opposition?
The best antidote for being out of the opposition is a presidential victory. A political movement must be coherent, strong and homogeneous. It cannot be the object of small political drums. We want to bring political pluralism to life in a damaged parliament, trampled on and discredited by the majority. Contrary to what their president Christophe Castaner says, Les Marcheurs cannot embody the camp of reason because they are that of fractures and bills. We had been promised the crossing of divisions, we knew a majority steeped in certainties, locked in a sectarianism worrying for the future of our democracy.
What is the state of mind of your 104 deputies?
They are all focused on one goal: to have a presidential candidate who can win our ideas. Our group is not for sale by cut and I am very confident in its strength and determination. I have no worries. We embody the right that wins and this desire is our best life insurance. I want us to become a majority again as we were in 2007 when we had 300 members of Parliament.
A new Macron / Le Pen duel is the most likely hypothesis today for 2022. You will not have a nominated candidate before the end of the year. Isn’t the right in danger of being overtaken?
No, because the presidential election is both a marathon followed by a sprint. We feel in the country that there is no appetite in France to relive the duel of 2017. The French understood this summer that Marine Le Pen would never be President of the Republic and that the RN vote would be the best life insurance for the re-election of Emmanuel Macron. They therefore understood that only the right could beat him. This is why our responsibility is very great. I support the calendar set by the president of our party Christian Jacob. We all need to play for the win and be in battle line behind a single candidate by the end of the year.
How do you see Eric Zemmour’s candidacy?
This candidate is a media chimera. We do not even know if he will really be a candidate and in any case, he can wear the colors of the right. One can have respect for the debate of ideas which he carries, but he is not a statesman. We don’t have to kick him out. Let’s leave him to dinner with Madame Le Pen.
At your invitation, Michel Barnier, Valérie Pécresse, Philippe Juvin, Éric Ciotti and Xavier Bertrand (the five candidates declared to wear the colors of the right and the center in the presidential election) come to defend their candidacy in front of the deputies. Do you see this moment as a test?
I wanted to have them by our side and invite them. No presidential ambition can be achieved without the support of our parliamentary group. Their presence marks the recognition of the work accomplished by the deputies. It is the symbol of a will to play together and the proof that parliament matters. We will be able to know the main lines of their ambition for France knowing that a majority will result from the next presidential election. I am the guarantor of unity within a group of one in two new members. Everyone will be able to form an opinion.
Is it possible to already assess the support on which each candidate will be able to count?
The LR group is not in a clan logic or in team calculations, as was the case in 2017. This time, because we are in the position of challengers and not of favorites, we are more in a dynamic of rallying. . Our elected officials are in a position of waiting, knowing that many were scalded by the last primary. There may be affinities between deputies and candidates, but above all we feel a desire to live together. Everyone wants to win the right. We know that a double candidacy would be eliminatory and we will all be behind a single candidate when the time comes.
You have assumed your closeness to Bertrand …
I wanted to be transparent. In my eyes, it embodies this other France of territories, of the social lift, of the middle classes… And it can embody a work-study program. But our political family has other talents such as Valérie Pécresse who is a strong woman or Michel Barnier who has the stature of a statesman. They are all capable of presiding over France. And I do not forget Philippe Juvin and Éric Ciotti, two equally good candidates, armed with very strong convictions on safety and health.
François Fillon had created the surprise in the first round of the primary in 2016 … Do you believe in surprises?
If there is a primary, the match is very open.
Is the presence of Laurent Wauquiez Thursday a sign?
I wanted to invite him. Laurent Wauquiez is a brilliant president of the region (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes). He had the humility, the grandeur and the courage to renounce a candidacy in order to preserve our unity. Of course his voice is strong. She will be even stronger tomorrow. Our objective is to resolve this paradox of a France which is largely on the right and which needs a movement to embody it.
Emmanuel Macron wants to cultivate the image of a reforming president until the last minute of his five-year term. Can this card be paid for?
The reform impetus of LREM was shattered on the wall of reality, that of a disconnection with the territories and of condescension. What is left of it? The reform of unemployment insurance is postponed, that of pensions becomes a sea serpent like those of administrative millefeuille, dependency, etc.… Reform is not to talk. Obviously, this France d’En Marche has a huge problem of implementing reforms. Nothing can be done in the last six months in a country where the tensions of society and the policy of permanent non-choice are factors of immobility.
You met Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday. What did he tell you?
As always, our exchange was rich and stimulating. I admire his optimism. This is what must irrigate the right and we must be inspired by it. Nicolas Sarkozy had been able to raise the right because he had known how to embody a hope. There is no inevitability in politics. We are in a position to win in 2022 and have all the cards in hand to succeed. Our former president invited me to build the foundations of a strong and solid majority.